New Year’s Day marked the 20th anniversary of the enacting of the North American Free-Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA). In the two decades after its passage, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has more than quadrupled. As a result of the successful reduction in trade barriers, the ever-increasing flow of cross-border trade now poses a growing challenge for our aging border infrastructure. Mexico is California’s top trading partner, so any hindrance on cross-border trade adversely affects California’s economy.
“Time lost at the border crossing because of a lack of infrastructure has an economic impact on the region,” said Flavio Olivieri, Executive Director of Tijuana EDC. According to a San Diego Association of Governments study, a staggering $7 billion in economic activity is lost annually on both sides of the border due to border congestion and long wait times.
The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, separating San Diego and Tijuana, is the world’s busiest land border crossing. “Over 60 million people cross that border every year,” Olivieri said. “In the commercial crossing, over 3,500 trucks cross every day.”
Although the CaliBaja Bi-National Mega-Region is California’s only region straddling the international border, other regional economies, businesses, and industries around the state depend on the movement of goods across the border.
Not addressing the border infrastructure gap puts California’s future economic growth at risk. Millions in commerce cross the border every day. Reducing border congestion and increasing efficiencies through infrastructure modernization is essential to the expansion of cross-border trade, a vital engine of economic growth.